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A Miscellany on Masks

Concerning “And now for some words of encouragement”

What should one do if one’s own church requires masking in order to attend (everyone, 3 years and up)? I’ve just returned with my 6-year-old (the others were sick) 2 weeks ago, and it bothers me so much. I really think our leadership is trying their best to do what’s right, but even the government in Houston, Tx doesn’t require masking in church.

Lindsey

Lindsey, if the church is otherwise healthy, and the leaders are otherwise good men, I would try to work with them. This does not mean masking up in worship, but doing things like asking them for their blessing for you to worship at home, including the Lord’s Supper. Ask them to be specific on their end game–when will this state of affairs be over, and what will be the criteria they will use? All very respectful, and so on. But if this is the last straw, the most recent in a series of compromises that disturb you, then begin looking for another church home.

This statement caught my eye and hints at something else I’ve noticed: “Masks are a confession, and saying that they are not part of the liturgy doesn’t make it so.”

Many churches who are currently meeting have added certain requirements for meeting. You must follow new cleansing or purification rituals prior to entering the temple (a.k.a. church, sanctuary, auditorium): disinfect every room between services, use hand-sanitizer or wash hands before entering, and put on your mask.

Is this materially different from requiring that you dip in the bronze laver before approaching God? Isn’t this the height of legalism now that we are washed in the blood of Jesus?

Thanks,

Robert

Robert, I don’t think this is the height of legalism. But I do think it is the introduction of legalism. It can get a lot worse, and we have not yet tapped out on the limits of the ridiculous.

I really enjoyed your piece on Masking and Masks. Other than a few examples which you cite, the Church has utterly failed in leadership when it should have done the opposite. We have an Army doctor on our pastoral staff that is going right along with “Well, the CDC/governor/boogeyman said we should . . .” It’s maddening.

I appreciated your well reasoned – yet pointed – answers.

Dan

Dan, thank you. And yes, the responses of many medical professionals has shown us credentials are not the same thing as wisdom.

My comments apply to the post, Littlejohn, MacArthur, and the Binding of Conscience.

I appreciate what Wilson has to say about binding the conscience as it pertains to mask-wearing. It’s wonderful that Christ Church doesn’t require masks!

Unfortunately, myself and many other Christians are in churches where our elders have asked us to wear masks. Many are discouraged, angry, bitter, and aren’t coming to church anymore. This deeply saddens me.

Personally, I wear the mask because I want to worship with my church family (Heb. 10:25 tells me to), even though I don’t agree with the decision my elders have made.

Would Mr. Wilson consider writing a word of encouragement to those who have been asked to wear masks at their churches? How should they respond biblically when asked to do something that binds their conscience as it pertains to masks specifically? I fear the mask issue is breaking up the church.

Also, I would love clarity on this. Mask wearing in and of itself isn’t a sin. I don’t think my elders have asked me to do something sinful. But for my friends who have convictions against wearing a mask, are my elders asking them to sin because it binds their conscience?

Erica

Erica, I understand your dilemma. I am afraid that there are layers to this. It is obviously not a sin to wear a mask. If you are a cowboy and you are overtaken by a dust storm, you pull your handkerchief up over your nose and mouth, and you can thank God for the handkerchief. But I am afraid that it is a sin to require people to mask up for worship, especially if the standards of the church are more stringent than what the civil government requires. And it is the requirement of the elders that causes the problem. When someone masks up at Christ Church, we don’t confront them for that “sin.” If they were still doing it a year from now, we would address it in counseling. But we wouldn’t try to fix it with a rule.

Letters to the Editor: Doug Responds to Lance re Littlejohn

I am writing regarding your response to Lance. I am interested in what you have to say about why government has the authority to temporarily close church or limit church during a pestilence/pandemic.

It seems church has a God given command to meet regularly and worship our Creator. In addition, the Constitution says we have a right to freely exercise our religion. In the face of two higher authorities (over governors), what is the authority for Caesar to stop church from meeting temporarily or even limiting how we meet based on a public health issue?

Certainly government wields the sword to punish evil. But when did wielding the sword change to preventing church from meeting during a public health crisis? And what are the limits of that? Certainly there is biblical authority for quarantining the sick.

I am curious to hear the biblical argument for why Caesar (in America) can order church to stop meeting temporarily during a time of pestilence/pandemic outside of quarantining sick people. Thanks.

Dan

Dan, the government does not have the authority to tell the church generally to stop meeting. But they do have the authority to quarantine the sick, and to cordon off a hot spot. However, in doing this they have to be responding to real disease, and not on the basis of what “could happen.” So say that the plague breaks out at First Memorial. The authorities have the right to close First Memorial down (temporarily). But they do not have the right to close down Second Baptist across town, where everyone is healthy.

RE: Binding the conscience

I am struggling with a serious issue of what to do with our state’s mask mandate, which my local church has said will be honored within its doors. This summer, we’ve been meeting outside so masks have not been an issue. But due to the changing seasons, we will soon be moving indoors. I am at a loss, as I believe our governor far out-stepped his authority time and again, masks being only the latest instance. And I believe it my duty to protect my family from the idolatry and group-think that has been revealed in this trying days. And yet, my church elders, good men all, insist that Romans 13 is controlling and we have to do what the governor says. I feel, as you stated so well, that this is a situation where they are needlessly and without warranted attempting to bind my conscience, but I have good friends who believe that I should submit to the elders on this and mask up for the sake of the spiritual health of my family rather than spending Sunday mornings at home all winter, even though I plan to lead my family in worship each week.

One consideration is that I don’t believe my church will actually enforce the mandate, but I don’t want to cause undue offense, by showing up sans mask, to those weaker brothers who took my church at its word when it said that masks would be required.

Or am I being the weaker brother for letting this issue determine our involvement in our church?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

DT

DT, if your elders are good men otherwise, then I would try to work with them. Ask them what they would do if . . . if you worshiped at home through the winter . . . if you wore a mask during fellowship time, but removed it during the service . . . if you didn’t wear a mask but sat in the back of the balcony. Etc.

Thank you for your continued faithfulness in preaching the truth. In your post you said,

“Binding the conscience only happens when someone makes something mandatory, and when someone else helps them to police the requirement. Your governor might be doing that, and your elders might be helping him“

What advice would you have to congregants whose church leaders are binding their conscience by requiring masks?

Josh

Josh, see my responses above to very similar questions. The one thing I would not do is make your elders guess at what you might be thinking. If they are good men, then talk to them.

In “Mostly Mail on Masks, Though the Musings Are Muffled” you wrote,

“[A] father and husband does have the authority to make a decision for his household on an issue like masking up when you go off into the outside world.”

I have two questions.

Would it be good and godly for a husband to bind the conscience of his wife?

Why should a woman willingly enter into a contract in which her good judgement is to be disrespected and her conscience bound?

MW

MW, I don’t think it would be wise for him to do that. But I think that he does have that authority (within limits). And a woman shouldn’t willingly enter into a covenant where she would be disrespected like that. Unfortunately, the decision to marry a man has to be made on the basis of what you know about his character at the time. So if a husband (foolishly and fearfully) requires his family to mask up, that is not grounds for divorce.

Aaron Renn

You probably already know but just in case you don’t, Aaron Renn features you and your community in his latest edition (#43) of The Masculinist.

Dave

Dave, yes, I read his newsletter with interest. I plan on commenting on his observations in a blog post tomorrow.

Good morning. I just finished reading the Masculinist #43 and I had no idea there seem to be a lot of reasons to hate you. Who knew? Is there something you’re not telling us?

Chris

Chris, oh, there are lots of reasons to hate me. Fortunately, my enemies have not managed to find the right ones yet.

Huguenots and All

While my own conscience and views heartily agree with the limits on Government you infer from Romans 13, I’m having difficulty engaging others on two points. First, I usually think the three main texts that have to do directly with the role of secular government are the Noahic Covenant, Romans 13, and 1 Peter 2. However, people often bring up Matthew 22/Mark 12 where when Jesus is asked about paying taxes and he says to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. This is used a lot, sometimes not really acknowledging that maybe not everything is Caesar’s, to say that whatever Caesar demands we pay short of moral compromise (say, worship, which is owed only to God) we are obligated to be obedient. Secondly, they bring up that Paul and Peter were calling for submission to a Roman government that certainly was extending it’s an authority beyond defense and common goods, and neither of them ever call for disobedience even though taxes were going towards gladiatorial games and other immoralities.

I am distressed that the “reformed” leadership would get behind a book entitled “woke church.” I don’t want to judge too quickly without reading the book, and judging by a title may not be right, but even so, it’s irresponsible to promote that the church is associated with something immoral like being “woke.” I remember 8 years ago when I thought the Gospel Coalition was still solid, and an article was written about why a church adopted a local public school. Sometimes, with a certain title, there’s just no way the book or article can redeem itself.

This shouldn’t be happening in the Reformed evangelical world. Maybe Methodist or UCC churches, but I thought there was a group that would never bow.

Luke

Luke, unfortunately, any church can manage to have its lamp stand removed. Ephesus was a really solid church at one time, and they lost it. With regard to Caesar, think of it in terms of images. What has Caesar’s image on it can be rendered to him. What has God’s image (we do) must be rendered to God, and not to Caesar.

Incoming from Twitter

Full disclosure, the following scenario was posted on Twitter by one of your more frequent, and from where I’m sitting, more malinformed critics. You were not mentioned, but would you, pretty please, be kind enough to explain for the peanut gallery, briefly how you would advise the woman in the given scenario? I hope I’m not out of line even asking.

“Another friend is married to the president of a Christian ministry/doctorate professor at a seminary. He’s got a big porn habit, goes to massage parlors, & controls all the finances so she can’t get free. Her elders told her to submit more, give him more hot meals, hot sex.”

Andrew

Andrew, assuming the truth of the facts as stated here, the husband is disqualified from the ministry for life and should be required to step down immediately. Her elders are completely out of line for telling her to put up with that kind of crap. And the wife is compromised because she is staying with him because of the money. She needs to get out yesterday.

Hollywood Stuff

I hope you’re doing well.

I have two questions that concern Hollywood and movies in general.

As you may know, it has come out in recent times that many notable and high ranking movie stars / producers have involvements in pedophilia and other (satanic) acts of godlessness.

How should a Christian stand to watching movies where such actors are playing parts? Do we boycott the films? Do we watch regardless of the actor’s personal sins with only the message of the film in mind? What advice would you give?

I personally am somewhat of a movie buff, but for sure one cannot turn a blind eye to these heinous sins. Are we in some way affiliating ourselves with these actors by being complacent? Or would you differentiate between the actor’s personal life and the movie, given that it’s not directly promoting sinful acts?

On that note, what is your opinion on “The Lord of the Rings” / “The Hobbit” trilogies? Should a Christian refrain from watching those movies? I admire the production quality and I like the story and the atmosphere of the films but it seems some Christians warn against watching because they contain sorcery and the like.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

VIc

Vic, I don’t think it is necessarily a sin to watch a movie where the actors have been sinful in their personal lives. But I do think that if the sins are public, and are at grotesque levels, it kind of wrecks it for the average Christian viewer. They don’t boycott out of principle. They just don’t want to be entertained by “that guy.” And you can depend on it, personal immorality is going to start showing up in the features somehow.

As far as LOTR goes, I only finished the first one. But this was not because of sorcery, but rather because of how they wrecked the books.

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Jeff Singletary
Jeff Singletary
2 years ago

Were the Israelites wrong to rebel against Rehoboam? Yes, it was God’s judgement against Solomon. But they didn’t know that.

Amanda Wells
Amanda Wells
2 years ago

Funny that LOTR came up…. Having never read the books, I enjoyed the movies and my husband and I have been re-watching them bit by bit in the evenings after the children are in bed – and I have been struck by how the bad men (not orcs/urukhai) are always shown wearing masks that cover their noses and mouths. Just sayin’.

Leslie Sneddon
Leslie Sneddon
2 years ago

I just read the Masculinist report on “owned space” Are there any jobs in Moscow for an MBA and a LIfeguard there? Our son is attending NSA…He tells us the milk and eggs are much better and less expensive!

agblooms
agblooms
2 years ago
Reply to  Leslie Sneddon

The town has several pools, though who knows if they’re open this year.

As far as the MBA, aren’t those they types of people that are expected to make their own jobs?

kyriosity
kyriosity
2 years ago

“things like asking them for their blessing for you to worship at home, including the Lord’s Supper.”

Wait…what? 🤔

-BJ-
-BJ-
2 years ago
Reply to  kyriosity

I wondered the same thing. Is this some kind of reverse psychology?

kyriosity
kyriosity
2 years ago

Dear editor,

I think this is the third car/truck/train/bike-wreck gif in a row. Could we try another theme for a bit? This one’s stressing me out. 😜